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[53] the natives came in contrast. The Spaniards were
Chap. II.} 1541
adored as children of the sun, and the blind were brought into their presence, to be healed by the sons of light, ‘Pray only to God, who is in heaven, for whatsoever ye need,’ said Soto in reply; and the sublime doctrine, which, thousands of years before, had been proclaimed in the deserts of Arabia, now first found its way into the prairies of the Far West The wild fruits of that region were abundant; the pecan nut, the mulberry, and the two kinds of wild plums, furnished the natives with articles of food At Pacaha,
June 19, to July 29.
the northernmost point which Soto reached near the Mississippi, he remained forty days. The spot cannot be identified; but the accounts of the amusements of the Spaniards confirm the truth of the narrative of their ramblings. Fish were taken, such as are now found in the fresh waters of that region; one of them, the spade fish,1 the strangest and most whimsical production of the muddy streams of the west, so rare, that, even now, it is hardly to be found in any museum, is accurately described by the best historian of the expedition.2

An exploring party, which was sent to examine the regions to the north, reported that they were almost a desert. The country still nearer the Missouri was said by the Indians to be thinly inhabited; the bison abounded there so much, that no maize could be cultivated; and the few inhabitants were hunters. Soto turned, therefore, to the west and north-west, and plunged still

more deeply into the interior of the continent. The highlands of White River, more than two hundred miles from the Mississippi, were probably the limit of

1 Platirostra Edentula.

2 Portuguese Relation, c. XXIV. ‘There was another fish, called a peele fish; it had a snout of a cubit long and at the end of the upper lip, it was made like a peele. It had no scales.’ Compare Flint's Geography, i. 85. Journal of Phil. Acad. of Nat. Science, i. 227—229. Nuttall's Arkansas. 254.

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